The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs under its Minister, Mr Samuel Kofi Ahiave Dzamesi, is repositioning itself to make the chieftaincy institution the backbone of the country’s development
So far, a total of 25 traditional areas, including the Lekpe Traditional Council, have been codified and this year, another 25 is expected to be codified.
Mr Dzamesi with a delegation in his office
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The Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, then the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Traditional Affairs, was created in 1993 under the Civil Service Law, 1993 (PNDC Law 327) based on recommendations by the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).
The vision of the ministry is to preserve, sustain and integrate the regal, traditional values and religious practices to accelerate wealth creation and harmony for total national development.
The ministry exists to develop an effective interface between the government, religious bodies and civil society on matters relating to chieftaincy and religious affairs for the promotion of peace, good governance and international partnership for the overall development of the country through research, advocacy and dialogue.
The minister inaugurating the Battor Traditional Council
The objectives of the ministry are to provide
It is also to formulate and supervise the implementation of national and sectoral policies and programmes, as well as promote political tolerance and national stability.
The ministry is charged with preserving, developing, promoting regal traditional institutions and values to project the unique Ghanaian identity and national pride.
The ministry organises periodic sectorial review conferences for its stakeholders to re-examine direction and focus in line with prevailing government policies.
Article 27 of the 1992 Constitution defines a chief as “a person who, hailing from the appropriate family and lineage, has been validly nominated, elected or selected and enstooled, en-skinned or installed as a chief or queen mother in accordance with the relevant customary law and usage.”
The minister, in an interview on the ministry’s role in chieftaincy and religious affairs, said because chieftaincy and culture had a bearing on history and tradition, it made the processes of succession laborious and complicated as a lot of people must be consulted before decisions could be made.
Members of the ministry's first Christian pilgrimage to Israel
Currently, there are 800 traditional areas registered with the National House of Chiefs together with their queen mothers, and according to Mr Dzamesi, the institution of chieftaincy was very strong throughout the country’s dispensations.
Mr Dzamesi, who is a member of the National Security Committee, however, estimated that over 70 per cent of conflicts in the country
Therefore, to ensure that chiefs and queen mothers became more abreast of modern administrative practices, the ministry is looking at establishing a royal college where chiefs would be trained on
Chiefs are also believed to have key roles to play in the country’s economic development as majority of lands are in their hands and so as custodians, they are an embodiment of economic transformation of the country but according to the minister, the land litigations all over the country make it difficult for the country to progress.
Setting up of a college for chiefs was vital to the country’s realisation of the ‘Ghana beyond aid agenda’.
Mr Kofi Dzamesi (4th left) with members of the Nigerian Pilgrims Council
As to whether chiefs have the free hand to work within any government’s economic agenda, Mr Dzamesi said the ministry’s role was more of cooperation with the chiefs, by regulating them in a manner that would enable them to work within the
The ministry, through the chiefs,
According to him, if the ministry limited itself to its core mandate of facilitation between the chiefs and the state then the institution of chieftaincy should remain non-partisan in the country.
“Without the chieftaincy institution, a lot of things will not move,” he said.
According to him, there must be synergies in all areas of economic development of the country, as conflicts went beyond chieftaincy which then hinders investment and socio-economic development.
So the ministry, Mr Dzamesi said, wanted to ensure that all parts of the country were conflict-free.
Religious Affairs is the second arm of the ministry.
“When I took office and I was given this portfolio, I realised that most churches and religious bodies have organisations with about six bodies, including the Christian Council. There are also other organised bodies such as the Muslims,” he said.
Churches, according to the minister, were leveraging the economic development of the country by setting up schools and hospitals, among others to consolidate the country’s economic gains.
The minister said churches were already doing well in their role of national development through philanthropic work and that the government appreciated their inputs in national development.
He indicated that the ministry’s role was to enhance the capacity of the churches to do more and that was exactly what it was doing.
Although there are conflicts within religious groups, the minister said the country was currently enjoying inter-faith peace which would be further cemented with an inter-faith dialogue for all religious bodies to deepen gains and chart the way forward for a peaceful nation.
He was of the view that although there was religious tolerance, it must not be taken for granted.
Mr Dzamesi at the inauguration of the Nyagbo Traditional Council
Through the ministry, a National Day of Prayer will be held for the country and the ministry will also facilitate a pilgrimage to Israel for Christians this year.
On customs and tradition, the minister
The ministry, he added, was also working at resourcing traditional councils which were the lower courts to be able to adjudicate on cases.
According to him, due to issues such as the lack of funding to sit, abandonment of cases by one party, among others, parties did not go through the process from the traditional council to the regional house of chiefs before the traditional court.
Mr Dzamesi has met with the Attorney-General and was yet to meet with the Chief Justice so that matters purely based on chieftaincy would go through the appropriate channels before they got to the traditional courts.
He mentioned some of the achievements of the ministry as the settling of chieftaincy crisis in Winneba which had paved the way for the celebration of the Aboakyir festival.